What about Ben Franklin? (was Re: [PLUG-TALK] O.J. and guns)

Russell Senior seniorr at aracnet.com
Tue Jul 6 00:28:59 PDT 2004

>>>>> "glen" == glen e p ropella <gepr at tempusdictum.com> writes:

glen> Now, I believe that truth is arrived at through consensus but
glen> belief is arrived at in as many ways as there are humans (and
glen> maybe other life forms) on the planet.

Hmm.  This is all rather philosophical, which is good in one way in
that it is interesting, but bad in another in that I never studied
philosophy (beyond Logic 101) and so I don't know the formalities very

I'll accept your "consensus" over my "democracy", though both were
getting at the same idea.  

My sense of the difference between belief and truth is a matter of
perception of certainty.  Belief is something fuzzily in the p=0.90
range, while truth is p~=1.0.  I have a problem with the idea that
someone elses consensus can trump/alter my own truth value for
something.  If you are saying, instead, that truth is just you and me
agreeing on something, then that makes more sense, as long as no third
party is required to agree.

glen> Of course, there are _lots_ of people out there who believe that
glen> the touchstone for truth is not consensus but some ontologically
glen> extant "out there"... in a "realist" sense.  [...]

My wife, the librarian, has been working on implementating an idea in
undergraduate education which these days is called "Information
Literacy", which seeks to instill in students an awareness of where
the information they are exposed to/using is coming from and with what
biases, etc.  Most people (including the underpriviledged kids) never
get a chance to confirm things like the value of G for themselves, but
instead have to evaluate the source of the information and the content
of the information to determine how credible it is.  Which is all very
interesting (and I mean that, truly I do ;-).  However, the thing we are
arguing about is really the definition of "truth".

russell2> BTW: the part of the Franklin quote I find troublesome is
russell2> the "deserves neither" part.  I don't think that part is
russell2> really subject to truth disambiguation.

glen> Yes.  I find it a bit troubling, too.  But, there is, at least,
glen> an ethical stand in there.... namely that an individual is to be
glen> held accountable in her consideration of the potential tradeoff
glen> between liberty and safety.  [...] 

glen> I _believe_ that's what the quote was really about.

Yeah, me too.  I see it really as an expression of disapproval for
making an ill-considered tradeoff (and implicitly a plea for wiser
consideration), rather than (as it appears literally) an incitement to
imprisonment and endangerment.

Russell Senior         ``I have nine fingers; you have ten.''
seniorr at aracnet.com

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